You’ve probably heard about mindfulness, chances are you know someone (your doctor? your kids or grandkids?) who finds this concept life changing. While we can’t promise that it will change your life, mindfulness has been proven to improve energy levels, help people focus AND studies show mindfulness is particularly beneficial to seniors.
Mindfulness is defined as the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something, or a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. Sounds a bit complicated, right? It’s really not; in today’s world it’s easy to get caught up in devices and screens; we actually have to make a point to unplug and be more mindful. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources to help us do exactly that. Deep breathing techniques and meditation are all connected to mindfulness but don’t get nervous, we’re not talking about the hippie-dippy stuff from the 1970’s.
Bob Linscott from the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, believes “mindfulness meditation,” can help adults in their 70s, 80s and beyond come to terms with the challenges of aging. In this Next Avenue article, Linscott says, “Meditation is like a pause button that breaks the cycle of worry. It can help older adults better accept their changing bodies or chronic pain. It puts them more in control of their lives.”
There are so many benefits of meditation for older adults that Dr. Stephanie Cheng from the University of California San Francisco frequently uses it with her patients. “In general, it’s been shown to decrease blood pressure and inflammation. And there’s some data around improving coronary artery disease outcomes and helping with post-traumatic stress disorder, chronic pain and headaches,” Cheng says in this story from US News.
Ready to give it a try? Here’s a simple 6 step mindfulness exercise that you can do right now:
- Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor or sit cross-legged on the floor, just as long as you’re comfortable but upright.
- Find a spot to look at as a focal point on, looking out a window is great because nature is known to be calming, but a spot on a wall will work too.
- Think of a phrase that makes you feel calm and centered, a few examples are: “I am calm.” “I am strong.” “I am peaceful.”
- As you say the phrase in your mind, inhale and count to four.
- Hold your breath and count to four.
- Exhale and count to five.
If you’d like to explore more mindfulness techniques, Brookfield’s Rooted in Mindfulness is a local center that offers mindfulness and meditation classes and workshops. If you’re tech savvy, there are dozens of online resources on the Develop Good Habits website where you can find a list of recommendations for the Best Mindfulness Apps.
Here, within our own Eastcastle Place where we are ever- mindful of how important mindfulness is …we have not only a weekly meditation group that is resident run, but also regularly scheduled sessions run by Dr. Paul Norton of the Milwaukee Mindfulness Practice Center.